Questions for those with an inground root cellar? Ideas please..

dirtslinger2(6)August 17, 2009


I am currently building a house, and the lay of the land (on a slight rise) allows for a inground cellar. I am reading the Bubel book, but need even more real life ideas as it isn't actually all that ideal of a situation.

(1)The north side of home is both facing the road (would not want cellar to be visible) as well the septic is going out that way, a serious conflict. I may be able to move the septic yet, but that would end up close to the pond or my veggies/orchard... quite a compromise!

East side (2nd best)is furthest from any doors (difficult winter access). Shovelling about 20' of snow on grass, plus a flight of stairs that gets 1/2 the roof snowload dumped on them will get old fast.

West side is 2 car garage.

The south (full sun) there is all the space in the world.

Builder suggest In the SW corner where it will be mainly shaded by decking, but the spring/fall sun is likely low enough to reach under there. Deck is on the second floor.

If it (solid concrete) is a foot deep below the soil level, will the full sun location be bufferred enough to work well? Winter averages quite cold, almost always below freezing and the ground is solid late Nov to late Feb. I want apples to keep until May/June or even better, if possible.

This a significant expense that naturally is going to need to work. Imagine all that $$/work, and it ends up a steamy mess...

(2)And plan is 8'x8' or 8'x10'. I plan to store veggies and orchard fruit. I gather you need to keep them both separate and the plan is to have a room 'within' the cellar for that.

But aprox what percentage should the room be? And what deserves more space, veggies/roots or fruit? That's personal I know, but I haven't a clue. I'm a bachelor and simply planning for the future!!

Any other tips, ideas, or even pics would be hugely appreciated. Thanks!

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Go with 10'x14'. The size you want is a bit tiny and if you want the height to be at least 6 foot, and have shelves in it, your really going to be cramped. A concrete top should be fine if its 1 foot below the soil level, but as you mentioned, it can get quite cool in winter, so if there is an access door to a basement, or garage, it may be helpful to run a single heating device in there as well as electricity for lights. Built in shelving into the walls can also help to save space.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 12:59AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

If I read you right you are more concerned about heat buildup than I would be. If you get 20' of snow in the winter and since winter is the high use time for our root cellar then I'd be more concerned with stuff freezing in there, not any heat.

The SW corner would work fine as long as it allows for at least 1 foot of dirt on top. More would be better. Ease of access should also be a primary concern (ours has access from the basement).

On average ours remains 20-25 degrees cooler than the outside air temp. Sure that can be too warm in the summers when temps reach 95 degrees but then not much is stored there in the summer. We have very mild winters here but we have had to prop open the cellar door now and then to keep things from freezing.

I agree with Ken that lights would be great - we don't have them and just use battery powered lanterns in there.

As to the separate fruit/veggie storage. It isn't that big a deal. Vent to outside air takes care of most the ethylene gas if you keep the fruits stored nearest to it and the veggies further away. Adding a simple partition between them helps.

Height - enough so you can stand up and have some shelves. Rotate stuff on the shelves now and then from top to bottom.

Hope this helps.


PS: also makes a great tornado shelter for us ;)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 9:43AM
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